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Business briefs

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 12:05 pm

Macy’s, Penney to spar in court over Martha Stewart

NEW YORK – Two of the nation's biggest department stores – J.C. Penney and Macy's – are expected to duke it out in New York State Supreme Court over the right to sell Martha Stewart merchandise.

At the heart of the case, slated to begin Wednesday, is whether Macy's has the exclusive right to sell certain Martha Stewart products like some of its cookware, bedding, and bath items. Company founder Martha Stewart, J.C. Penney's CEO Ron Johnson and Macy's CEO Terry J. Lundgren could be called to testify during the trial, which could last three weeks.

In December 2011, J.C. Penney announced a partnership in which it would open Martha Stewart mini shops in most of its stores, beginning this spring. It also announced that it had acquired a 16.6 percent stake in Martha Stewart Living. The deal is part of J.C. Penney's plan to revive the struggling department store under Johnson's leadership.

Macy's sued Martha Stewart Living almost immediately, saying that it had exclusive rights on certain of its products until 2018. The pact goes back to 2007.

Office Depot agrees to buy OfficeMax in stock deal

NEW YORK – Office Depot and OfficeMax are being collated.

The retailers said Wednesday they have agreed to combine in an all-stock deal worth about $1.2 billion that would transform the office-supply retail sector, helping the No. 2 and No. 3 chains compete against industry behemoth Staples. The first move toward consolidation in an industry that is bloated with stores reflects the changing retail landscape as “big box” stores have become outmoded and more people shop online.

White House announces efforts against trade theft

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced new efforts Wednesday to fight the growing theft of American trade secrets, a broad but relatively restrained response to a rapidly emerging global problem that was brought into sharp focus this week by fresh evidence linking cyberstealing to China's military.

Mentioning China but not specifically targeting that country, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the plan, which includes a new diplomatic push to discourage intellectual property theft abroad along with better coordination at home.

The administration says economic espionage is increasing through electronic intrusion and the recruitment of ex-employees of U.S. companies with knowledge of inside information.

– From wire reports